Bill Venuti (left) and Ken Rapkin of the Campbell Founation

In the spirit of giving, each December the Campbell Foundation gives grants to groups around the country who service HIV/AIDS in some form or another.

Campbell’s Program Officer Ken Rapkin calls it a “holiday hug.”

“These organizations work hard all through the year to provide services to the AIDS community and their families. This annual gift, to be used in any way they see fit, is our way of recognizing all that they do,” Rapkin said.

This year’s recipients are:

  1. Aids Help of Monroe County, Key West, Fla.
  2. Aid for AIDS, New York, NY
  3. American Academy of HIV Medicine, Washington, D.C.
  4. Broward House, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  5. Caracole, Cincinnati, Ohio
  6. Care Resource, Miami, Fla.
  7. Children's Diagnostic & Treatment Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  8. Clinical Directors Network, New York, NY
  9. FoundCare (formerly the Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach), Riviera Beach, Fla.
  10. Frannie Peabody Center, Portland, Maine
  11. Help, Inc (HIV Education and Law Project), Miami Beach, Fla.
  12. Jerusalem House, Atlanta, Ga.
  13. McGregor Clinic, Fort Myers, Fla.
  14. Mothers Voices, Stone Mountain, Ga.
  15. North Broward Hospital District - Comprehensive Care Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  16. Oasis, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
  17. Open Hand, Atlanta, Ga.
  18. Poverello Center, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  19. Time Out Youth, Charlotte, N.C.
  20. Wellness Center of South Florida, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Matt Pieper, executive director of Open Hand Atlanta, said the grant will go a long way toward providing those with chronic illness with the medically appropriate meals and nutrition coaching they need to better manage or overcome their health challenges.

“This year has been an especially tough year because of deep federal cuts, making it more difficult to provide nutrition services to those in Metro Atlanta who need our help,” Pieper said. “It’s a very profound gift and we are so appreciative of the Campbell Foundation’s continued support.”

Linda Seiter, executive director of Caracole in Ohio said her organization appreciates the fact that the grants come with no strings attached.

“What is so appreciated about the Campbell Foundation is the fact that they do fund general operating support,” Seiter said. “So many foundations are interested in new and innovative programming, which we can do, but we need funding to sustain what we are doing and the Campbell Foundation helps us do that.”

Campbell Foundation is named after Richard Campbell Zahn, the chemist who brought you Herpecin-L lip balm. He incorporated Campbell Labs to sell the balm. But something was bothering him.

“He was so mad when he was alive that the government was ignoring AIDS,” said Bill Venuti, now the trustee at Campbell. Venuti explained that Campbell had set aside money in 1986 for the very foundation that acts today, but the money couldn’t be touched until the chemist passed away in 1995 from AIDS complications. “When he died, we knew we had to fund these scientists. It’s not sexy, but somebody has to start on those basic ideas. The parades are fun, but that’s more applicable when you’re able to do that — we have to stick to the donor’s vision.”

And so, the foundation stepped up to the plate. Since 1995, the foundation has funded 126 sets of studies around the world. Funders Concerned About AIDS (FCAA), for, example, ranked Campbell in the top 20th percentile for private philanthropic groups that focus on AIDS. The 25-year-old FCAA aims to “mobilize” philanthropic groups like Campbell by initiating them into action (and ranking them).

“We’ve given away over $9 million — to ideas that no one wanted to be a part of,” Ken Rapkin told SFGN. “Women’s studies, children’s studies. Many times the government was too afraid to touch the more risky medications.”

For more information, go to CampbellFoundation.net.